15th Symposium on Education


Methodology and observations from the implementation of AMS Online Weather Studies in a junior-level college course during Spring 2005

John A. Keyantash, California State Univ., Carson, CA

The Online Weather Studies package, produced by the AMS, was used during the Spring 2005 semester at California State University, Dominguez Hills. This implementation was new, as the Meteorology course had been previously taught (during Fall 2002) in a traditional lecture environment, without laboratory exercises. Comparing the two approaches, it was observed that student interest and retention of the material was higher incorporating Online Weather Studies into the curriculum. The median score on the midterm examination raised from 63% to 81% between the two semesters. Furthermore, the median overall raw score for the course raised from 69% to 77% (overall grades were curved). It is the presenter's belief that the interactive nature of the Online Weather Studies package contributed to the enhanced student retention of the material.

Given its previous structure, the course was worth three units of upper division credit (within the Geography curriculum) for students. One course meeting was devoted to a traditional lecture, based on the Online Weather Studies textbook by Joseph Moran. The second course meeting was in a computer lab, for a supervised time in which students could work on their two weekly assigned laboratory exercises. Thus, the course was not taught in a wholly online manner.

For the laboratory coursework, a two-tiered grading scheme was applied, where labs were separately graded for completeness, and a subset were graded for accuracy and completeness. Students were not informed which labs would be graded for accuracy, so they were held accountable to complete all of the assigned exercises. This approach is recommended to ensure that students engage in all of the assigned laboratory exercises, while limiting the grading burden of the instructor for a large course. Overall, there were 21 labs assigned, and 14 (66%) of these were checked for accuracy. The median performance was that 85% of the answers within the 14 assigned labs were correct.

Poster Session 1, Educational Initiatives
Sunday, 29 January 2006, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM, Exhibit Hall A2

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